MAZISI KUNENE MUSEUM
By: Nana Zuke
Mazisi Kunene was one of the most influential people in literature to date. Though he has passed on, his work continues to inspire young writers and the whole world. Born and raised in Amahlongwa, KwaZulu Natal,
Professor Mazisi Kunene lived up to his name, which literally means ‘identity’. He was a teacher by profession and by the time he was laid to rest he was an archive of knowledge recognized all over the world.
The Mazisi Kunene museum boasts of this legend’s accomplishments and memories. With each book and quote provoking thoughts of wanting to be a better individual, his words encourage the pursuit of greatness.
Tourists stare stunned as his son Sukumume recites a few pages from the book Emperor Shaka Zulu the Great. His children are following in his footsteps and are ensuring that his legacy is kept alive, hence the Mazisi Kunene foundation.
“The second we could walk, we were told to pick up a stick and start toytoying,” says Sukumume as he chats to the tourists visiting the museum.
The Mazisi Kunene foundation aims to develop, preserve and promote the culture of African writing, with Mazisi Kunene as its nucleus. That is part of the mission statement of the foundation.
Since its establishment the foundation works intensely in training and arming the youth with the educational tools that will help in nurturing them into exceptional individuals. The former comrade’s children and family are very hands on.
“One of the high schools we are working with now has done exceptionally well over the years with the help of our tutors. From a 30% pass rate in 2008 to 80% now,” said Lamakhosi Kunene, Mazisi’s daughter.
As the tourists listen carefully to an abstract of the book, Madala Kunene gently caresses the strings on his guitar- it is the very sound that takes everyone in the room on a journey back in time.
The manuscripts at the Kunene museum serve as a legacy for this man, this author who influenced so many people and achieved so much. Internationally recognized and commemorated last year in Los Angeles where Madala played, it shows that this son was not only ours, but belonged to the world.
The museum is run by the Kunene family with help from keen sponsors. Situated at Allan Paton Road in Glenwood where Kunene himself lived when he came back from exile, this is a heritage site in the making.